Options and Freedom of Choice, Have Been the Baby Boomers' Catchcry. JENNIE DELL Explores How They Are Approaching the Final Frontier. Leaving the World Lightly {Ndash} the Baby Boomers Do It All Their Own Way

The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia), November 14, 2009 | Go to article overview

Options and Freedom of Choice, Have Been the Baby Boomers' Catchcry. JENNIE DELL Explores How They Are Approaching the Final Frontier. Leaving the World Lightly {Ndash} the Baby Boomers Do It All Their Own Way


OPTIONS, and freedom of choice, have always been the hallmarks of Baby Boomer lifestyles. Just as many preferred to give birth naturally, sought alternative healing therapies, and explored the mind-body connection through meditation techniques, many now also want a natural death.

Tryphena McShane, former North Coast resident and co-author of The Intimacy of Death and Dying, advises that anyone who is going to be around someone who is dying needs to get into the dying person's zone.

"Our everyday lives are so fast. Dying people are not going that fast," Trypheyna says. "To honour someone who is dying, you have to slow down enough to appreciate the subtlety of a simple breath, or a heartbeat."

A dying person's space is important, she stresses.

"The space they are in needs to be soothing and comfortable for them. It's important to set up whatever sensory pleasures they choose, as their consciousness slowly detaches from the busy-ness of the world outside to the quieter realm of their interior experience. Hearing is one of the last senses to go, so carers should eliminate jarring sounds, and not talk about the dying person as if they can't hear."

Tryphena explains that as a person nears death, their need to have a lot of stuff around them, or even to eat and drink, diminishes. When even taking sips of water is a chore, it helps to have ice cubes on hand for the person to suck, or just to moisten their lips.

"We would live our lives better if we brought death into our day-to-day consciousness," she says. "When you get what it means to take just another breath, there is grace in the reverence we feel for the preciousness of life," she says. "There is even room for fun and humour around death. Even after we cease to enjoy food and wine, we can all enjoy a good belly laugh."

Tryphena believes that children of any age benefit from the opportunity to spend time with people who are dying.

Children love to decorate the coffin and drop little notes, pictures and gifts inside. There is no 'yuk' factor in any of these practices for them. Invited to participate, they come to the process with a child's natural curiosity and sense of fun.

As well as being with the person as they near the end of life, children can join in the bathing and dressing of the body after death. They can sit with the body, and observe for themselves how life really has gone, but the world hasn't fallen apart. .

The presence of children around a death can reduce tension and encourage others to relax and accept what is happening in the here and now, even as they grieve for the person they love.

***

Those who have been given the news that they have a terminal condition, and thus have time to prepare, can choose whether to go in a blaze of celebration, with a pre-funeral knees-up they can attend, or slip away quietly with family or friends close by.

Byron Bay identity Tony Narracott famously organised his own wake, inviting his family, friends, local musicians, actors, comedians and all the people he wanted to be there. He didn't want to miss out so he held the party before he died.

Many may not want to go that publicly, and prefer to spend as much time as possible quietly at home, able to choose who is with them, and allowing only those medical interventions that are acceptable to them. They want pain management to be in their own hands. Others are content to be in the safe environment of a hospital or hospice. …

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